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The executive chef for Brigham Young University’s Dining Services was named the 2012 Utah Chef of the Year by the Beehive Chefs Association, an award recognized by the largest professional chefs’ organization in North America: the American Culinary Federation.

John McDonald, along with three other chefs, competed in the final competition in early October before the results were announced at a special event held at the Salt Lake City Marriott University Park.

“I was completely surprised,” McDonald said. “It’s nice to be recognized by my peers and chefs in the profession.”

At the competition, judges looked at the chef’s menu design, portion sizes, food safety, cooking technique and taste. McDonald had 15 minutes to set up his station, 60 minutes to fabricate and cook, 10 additional minutes for plating and 15 minutes for clean-up.

His winning combination included coco-seared duck breast, jicama slaw with ancho chili vinaigrette and an arepas-mole sauce.

McDonald has worked as a chef for 24 years, with the last six at BYU Dining Services. Before coming to BYU he worked at the Radisson Hotel in Park City, Fort Douglas Country Club, Willow Creek Country Club, owned a personal catering business and worked as the executive chef and chef instructor at Utah State University. He received his chef’s training at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore.

At BYU, McDonald oversees all the chefs in the campus restaurants and cafeterias. He takes into account the growing health-conscious fad by keeping up on all the dietary trends, staying up to date with publication and incorporating new ideas into the BYU menu, making them fit to the cost, volume, demands and nutritional needs of BYU students.

He was recently featured at a demonstration booth at the popular BYU Farmers Markets.

The Beehive Chefs Association is the Utah chapter of the American Culinary Federation.The ACF was established in 1929 and is recognized as the premier professional chefs’ organization in North America with more than 20,000 members in more than 200 chapters. The ACF organizes regional and national events, creates publications and oversees certification of professional chefs.

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Writer: Amberly Asay